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Freeport, Indonesia nearing deal to transfer majority Grasberg stake

TOP NEWS

Freeport, Indonesia nearing deal to transfer Grasberg stake

The Indonesian government and Freeport-McMoRan Inc.are near a new deal outlining plans for transferring a majority stake in the Grasberg copper-gold mine to Indonesia's state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, Bloomberg News reported, citing anonymous sources. Under the transaction completion agreement, PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium will look to acquire Rio Tinto's interest in Grasberg by March 2018 and then convert it into an equity stake, two of the sources said.

Workers down tools at Vale's Moatize coal mine in Mozambique

Workers at Vale SA's Moatize coal mine in Mozambique downed tools in a dispute over bonus payments, Reuters reported, citing a Mozambican television station. The move resulted in the stoppage of work at the plant. The workers were seeking the reinstatement of the bonuses and claimed that the miner had cut the bonus payments due to a sharp decline in global coal prices.

SAIL, ArcelorMittal's US$1B JV to start producing auto steel in three years

Steel Authority of India Ltd. will start producing automotive steel under a US$1 billion joint venture with ArcelorMittal in three years, Reuters reported, citing a top Indian government official. SAIL has approved entering into a non-binding agreement on the terms of the JV, the company confirmed, adding that a definitive agreement with ArcelorMittal will be "finalized in due course subject to financial viability."

BASE METALS

* The concentration of cobalt supply is rising in terms of the commercial control of its production and of its geographical source. These changes pose a risk, both commercially and geopolitically, to manufacturers relying on cobalt as it becomes increasingly critical with the growth of battery demand, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

* CuDeco Ltd. resumed processing plant operations and concentrate production at its flagship Rocklands copper mine in Queensland, Australia, after addressing the issues raised by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines in late November.

* KGHM Polska Miedz SA is considering its options after British Columbia's provincial authorities refused to issue an environmental assessment certificate for its preproduction-stage Ajax copper-gold property.

* Strategic Minerals Plc renegotiated the acquisition terms for the Leigh Creek copper mine in South Australia. The company will now pay A$3 million via cash and shares, instead of the previously agreed A$5 million payment through royalties, cash, shares and assumption of debt.

PRECIOUS METALS

* Anglo American Platinum Ltd. expects its headline earnings for 2017 to be at least 20% higher than 2016, by about 373 million South African rand, or 1.43 rand per share. The Anglo American Plc unit booked headline earnings of 1.87 billion rand, or 7.13 rand per share, in 2016. Amplats also estimates its 2017 basic earnings to increase by at least 20%.

* Torex Gold Resources Inc. said a majority of the workers at its El Limon-Guajes gold mine in Mexico voted to return to work immediately during the company-organized off-site voting for 520 employees who are eligible to join a union. A union called Los Mineros illegally blockaded the main gate to the mine in early November.

* Gascoyne Resources Ltd. entered into flat forward gold sales contracts for 164,000 ounces of gold produced from its preproduction-stage Dalgaranga property in Western Australia, where initial production is anticipated in the second quarter of 2018.

* Trifecta Gold Ltd. terminated an option agreement with Metals Creek Resources Corp. covering the latter's Squid gold-silver property in Canada's Yukon Territory.

* Following a review of previous exploration activity at the Akyanga license area, Ortac Resources Ltd. identified significant gold mineralization at Akyanga East, a parallel structure only 400 meters from the known gold resource.

* Hummingbird Resources Plc achieved ore commissioning at its Yanfolila gold mine in Mali. First gold is expected this month, with commercial ramp-up during the first quarter of 2018. Output in the first full year is expected at about 130,000 ounces of gold.

BULK COMMODITIES

* Adani Enterprises Ltd. decided to part ways with Downer EDI, one of the major contractors for the company's Carmichael coal project in Queensland, Australia, as it vowed to develop the mine on an "owner operator" model, The Australian Financial Review reported. Adani hired Downer in 2014 to conduct drilling, blasting and coal haulage at Carmichael, under a deal reportedly worth nearly A$2 billion. Adani insisted that the cancellation of the Downer agreement did not mean that Carmichael would soon be terminated as well.

* Coal miners at ArcelorMittal's Kazakh unit and the biggest steel mill in the country, ArcelorMittal Temirtau, have ended their sit-in strike and emerged from the mines, Reuters reported, cited the company. The strike ended after ArcelorMittal offered a pay increase for employees working underground by 30% and threatened to pursue legal action against the workers.

* Ukraine's coal imports from January through November in monetary terms reached US$2.43 billion, the bulk of which came from Russia, the UNIAN Information Agency reported, citing the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine.

* Italy's state holding company CDP and Intesa Sanpaolo entered a non-binding agreement to join ArcelorMittal's bid to acquire Ilva International SpA, Reuters reported, citing a source close to the matter. The CDP and Intesa's participation will amount to around €100 million euros, replacing the share in the consortium currently held by Italian steel processor Marcegaglia.

* According to an independent study commissioned by the U.K. government, the country will have £3.8 billion per annum of business opportunities for steelmakers by 2030, Reuters reported. The government also plans to use 3 million tonnes of domestic steel in infrastructure projects over the next five years.

* The worker's strike at Griffin Coal's Collie coal mine in Western Australia is expected to spill over into the new year after the maintenance workers again failed to reach a breakthrough in stalled wage negotiations, The West Australian reported. The maintenance workers at the mine have been striking for a record 17 weeks after the company last year shifted them on to an industry award resulting in wage cuts of up to 40%.

* Mechel PAO signed a protocol of intent on developing ties between Mechel-Steel Management Co. OOO and Kyrgyzstan's state-owned Kyrgyz Temir Zholu. The protocol will run for five years and aims to build systematic cooperation, including product information exchange, as well as cooperation in steel rolls supplies such as broad-gauge rails.

* Jastrzebska Spólka Weglowa SA concluded a five-year coking coal supply deal with voestalpine Rohstoffbeschaffungs Gmbh and Importkohle GmbH in Linz Austria. The contract will take effect April 1, 2018, and is estimated to be worth about 1.35 billion Polish zlotys.

* China will reduce export taxes on some steel products and fertilizers and ditch those for sales abroad of steel wire, rod and bars, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Reuters reported, citing the country's Ministry of Finance.

* Noble Group Ltd. Chairman Paul Brough said the troubled commodities trader is negotiating a debt restructuring deal with creditors to avoid bankruptcy, Reuters reported. "We hope to receive proposals from our creditors in the near future. The ball's in their court," Brough said.

* Bauxite Resources Ltd. approved a cash reward of 5 Australian cents per share to shareholders for a total of about A$10.7 million. The ASX-listed company is a takeover target for Mercantile Investment Co. Ltd., which made an unsolicited off-market takeover offer in November to buy 1 of every 2 fully paid shares in Bauxite Resources that it does not already own for 9 Australian cents apiece.

SPECIALTY

* Triton Minerals Ltd.'s definitive feasibility study for its Ancuabe graphite project in Mozambique pegged a pretax net present value, discounted at 10%, of US$298 million, a 36.8% internal rate of return and a 3.8-year payback period. The company also estimated a maiden ore reserve of 24.9 million tonnes at 6.2% total graphitic carbon for 1.5 million tonnes of contained graphite.

* PJSC Alrosa recovered a 98.63-carat large gem-quality diamond from the Jubilee pipe of the Aikhal Division in Russia. More than 20 large rough diamonds of over 50 carats have been extracted from Jubilee this year, said Evgeny Agureev, the director for the company's united selling organization.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The trends in juniors companies' exploration budget history are largely the same across all targets in 2017. However, because their business model is essentially risk-driven, aiming for a big return, the juniors have historically been driven more by the precious metals sector, particularly gold and silver, than by base metals, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence. In 2017, data collected for S&P Global's Corporate Exploration Strategies series shows that while gold and other target allocations are up, essentially ending the four-year decline in budgets, base metals allocations by the juniors are down for the fifth consecutive year.

* Pacific/Southeast Asia is the only global region that has reported lower exploration budgets in 2017 compared with 2016, according to the Metals and Mining Research team of S&P Global Market Intelligence. With allocations US$67 million lower year over year, the region's share of global budgets has decreased to 3.8% from 5.3% the year before, continuing its last-place finish since 1999. Data gathered for S&P Global Market Intelligence's Corporate Exploration Strategies series shows that, out of the 14 countries in Pacific/Southeast Asia with budgets in 2016, seven have reported lower exploration budgets year over year in 2017. Only 86 companies are exploring in the region, a 22% drop from 110 reporting in 2016.

* The government of Odisha, India, ruled out extending the Dec. 31 deadline to recover penalties from miners for illegal mining activities in the province as ordered by the Supreme Court, Mining Weekly reported. According to government data, the amount recoverable from miners will be about US$781 million, which is higher than the US$468 million estimated when the court issued the verdict.

S&P Global Market Intelligence is owned by S&P Global Inc.

The Daily Dose is updated as of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, and scans news sources published in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Ukrainian. Some external links may require a subscription.